Looking Forward From 2020

Crystal Ball

As 2020 begins its journey from memory into history, I can’t help but wonder how our experiences in this gruesome year will shape the future. We may have experienced 10 years of social innovation in the past 10 months, but how will that accelerated innovation change the way we spend our days? What will come back? What is gone forever? What can 2020 teach us about the future?


For jobs where WFH is an option, the future is clear. The big question is, what percentage of time will previous office workers have to spend at the office? The follow-on effects of even 10 percent of previous daily commuters working from home for some portion of the week are profound. The bigger the number, the bigger the impact on the service economy that supports their commutes and their out-of-home needs. I don’t see this as an either/or scenario. We will continue to see a shift in working environments. We should prepare for the economic impact.

Business Travel

On a related subject, I don’t know anyone who has a full business travel schedule. Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, doesn’t think air travel gets “back to normal” until 2024. That sounds right. But the new normal may include far fewer business travelers. Clients are now fully empowered to have a quick F2F video chat. Let’s say business travel will be reduced by 25 percent going forward. What economic impact will that have?

Media Consumption

Warner Bros. will release its entire 2021 slate of theatrical motion pictures on HBOMax the same day they are released in theaters. Other motion picture distributors have made their movies available online for $19.95 within weeks of their theatrical release (or sooner). Cord-cutting is accelerating. People have had the time to learn new ways to consume media. TikTok and YouTube are experiencing extraordinary growth. People have a wealth of choices. Production values are increasing at a remarkable rate of speed. There is more to watch, and there are more ways to watch than ever before. The media landscape has evolved, and it is not going back.

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Shelly Palmer is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert (WNYW-TV) and the host of Fox Television's monthly show Shelly Palmer Digital Living. He also hosts United Stations Radio Network's, ...

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